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Credit Card Rules Limiting Access for Stay-at-home Moms

CNN Money reports on an unintended consequence of Obama regulation the media didn’t see coming and left touted as ‘lifeboat’ for consumers.

CNN Money recently introduced the world to Holly McCall, a thirty-four year old stay-at-home mother of two from Vienna, Va, who is fighting against the credit card “reforms” enacted in 2009. in a May 16 story, CNN Money’s Blake Ellis wrote that despite approval in the past, McCall was denied a credit card from Target last fall. She blamed a 2009 law that was supposed to “protect consumers.”

It didn’t take McCall long to find out that credit card issuers are now required by the Federal Reserve to take an applicant’s individual income into account instead of overall household income.

“The law was passed in 2009 to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices. But some stay-at-home parents argue that a Card Act rule that took effect last October has made it harder for them to get approved for credit cards,” Ellis wrote.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act was signed into law on May 22, 2009, with bipartisan support. The Obama administration touted the new law as a major victory. “With this new law, consumers will have the strong and reliable protections they deserve. We will continue to press for reform that is built on transparency, accountability, and mutual responsibility – values fundamental to the new foundation we seek to build for our economy,” President Obama said of the legislation. The Washington Post also reported that Obama said the law would mean: “No more fine print, no more confusing terms and conditions.”

NBC “Nightly News” promoted the administration’s position before the bill passed. On April 22, 2009, Brian Williams called credit card rates “the ultimate indignity.” CBS complained about credit card fees and supported the Obama “reform” on May 10, 2009, supporting his claims with those of the Center for Responsible Lending an proponent of more stringent regulation of all lenders.

Proponents nicknamed it the Credit Card Holders’ Bill of Rights and the media broadcast Sen. Chuck Schumer’s , D-N.Y., praise for the bill over and over again: “So, for consumers across the country who are drowning in credit card debt, a lifeboat has just arrived.”

But occasionally criticism of the pending regulation made it into a broadcast. Adam Levin of Credit.com told CBS “Evening News” viewers on May 19, 2009, that the law would not solve the problem. “Americans have to focus on developing a serious plan to personally reduce their debt.”

In a CBS “Early Show interview” from May 20, 2009, Clifford Winston of the left-wing Brookings Institute even warned that the law could have unforeseen consequences: “It could have counterproductive effects in that credit companies will react and say we’re just going to make less credit available.”

Angered by the new restrictions that prohibited credit approval, McCall started an online petition at Change.org, CNN reported. Over 34,000 people have echoed the sentiment with their signatures as of May 21. “I think it’s demeaning, I don’t want to ask my husband’s permission for a credit card,” she told Ellis. “Just because I don’t get a direct paycheck, doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile work that I’m doing.”

According to Ellis’ article, McCall and half a dozen other petitioners personally delivered several binders worth of signatures to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] in Washington, D.C. In order to make a statement, some dressed up as housewives from the fifties era. Others carried signs in the shape of credit card with the word “denied” stamped on it.

“It’s about fair and equal access to credit,” McCall said. CNN reported that CFPB was looking into the matter.